Flowers are a big part of religious rituals in India. It is estimated that approximately 800 million tonnes of flowers are offered annually across the temples, mosques and gurudwara in India. These generous offerings turn into colossal waste which is detrimental for the environment. Phool collects discarded flowers to keep them out of the water supply, then “flower-cycles” them into charcoal-free incense. The enterprise employs women from the lower social and economic strata, where they collect 11.8 tonnes of flowers on a daily basis from more than 130 temples and mosques.
To the uninformed, the idea of further using wasted flowers seemed ludicrous. Phool had to toil to convey their idea of recycling the temple waste because nobody was willing to take it seriously or give up their floral waste. But this simple idea became a roar once it set rolling. The founders spent hours experimenting, meeting various stakeholders and pitching the idea of managing temple waste in the country. A year and a half and countless hours in a makeshift laboratory later, flowercycled incense and vermicompost were conceived and crafted. The mission to preserve the river Ganges and empower vernacular people by providing a means to earn their livelihood became a reality.
Phool has invested themselves heavily into R&D to invent methods to convert temple-waste into biodegradable packaging and bio-leathers. They are also constantly trying to enhance their impact on empowering the women who are employed with them. It has been their earnest effort to turn this pious waste collection into a full-blown social enterprise which now spans three cities.
As Phool evolves, they are always presented with many decisions. They remember what is imperative- the people, the community, and the Ganges.